by Hollis Hiscock
Catherine Henry and Anne Williams, along with 78 other women from across Canada, spent four days in June attending a National Gathering open to all Anglican women.
Marion Saunders, Convenor of the Gathering, observed, “No such gathering has taken place for several decades; in fact, there was only one in attendance who could remember such an event for all Anglican women ever happening.”
“The Love of Jesus Calls Us to Worship, Learning and Service”, which reflects the mission and prayer of the Anglican Church Women (ACW), was the conference theme.
The Niagara Anglican interviewed Catherine (ACW’s past president of Huron Diocese) and Anne (president of Nova Scotia’s ACW) to glean their impressions.
Niagara Anglican: Why did you attend and what were your expectations?
Catherine Henry: I chose to attend this National Gathering primarily to see the wonderful women I had met previously at the Presidents’ Conferences in Saskatoon and St. John’s, and to discuss issues facing all Anglican Church Women across Canada.
Anne Williams: My expectations … there would be many women from across Canada with similar interests in women’s ministry.
Niagara Anglican: What were your overall impressions?
Anne: Altogether, it was an enjoyable and learning experience, which I hope will be repeated.
Catherine: Though our situations differ greatly depending on our geographical location, we face similar problems with respect to perception of ACW, from recruiting younger women, getting our information dispersed within our churches and the closing of churches due to demographics and financial difficulties.
Niagara Anglican: What were some of the highlights for you?
Catherine: The highlight for me was meeting and exchanging ideas with women from across Canada and attending the workshops. Ann Veyvara-Divinski described 50 Years (and more) of Women’s Ministry and Deborah Lonergan-Freake gave an update from the Council of the North.
Judy Rois filled us in on the work of the Anglican Foundation and the graceful and spiritual Liturgical Dancers inspired everyone.
Anne: The Primate’s session on human trafficking was one highlight, together with the UN Youth Delegates’ report on the Status of Women from Sierra Robinson-Roper.
Niagara Anglican: What will you take back to your ACW and how can it be used?
Anne: The session about approaching the younger generation and getting them involved in church activities was a learning experience, which I will try to share and carry out both with my local church and the Nova Scotian Board.
Catherine: I will encourage our ACW to keep connected to the Anglican women’s organizations across Canada, so we can maintain a feeling of support and awareness that we are all working towards the same goal.
During the gathering held at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, attendees celebrated the conclusion of the ACW’s 50th year, recognizing the many foundational years prior to 1966. They learned how to pray out loud and storytelling the Bible, as well as hearing how the Mohawks came to Christianity.
The Anglican position on assisted dying was also explored in a workshop.
Primate Fred Hiltz praised the ACW for their global, national and local understanding and work as he reviewed the priorities of the Church National as well as its role at the international level.
On the first day, the group made a human map of Canada with each person standing at the place from which she came.
Summarizing the four days, Marion concluded, it “was more than the program: the fellowship, time for sharing and discussion, excellent meals and comfortable accommodation all combined to create a fun-filled, faith-filled and meaningful Gathering for those attending.”